Farm crocodiles vanish in their hundreds

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Police in Ho Chi Minh City are investigating the alleged theft of more than 300 young crocodiles from a farm in Cu Chi District on Friday night.


Farm owner Tang To claims to have discovered the reptiles missing at around 6 a.m. on Saturday.


On a routine inspection at eight o'clock the previous evening, according to To, he and three of his employees had noted that all the crocodiles, which weigh between four and seven kilograms each, were still in their two cages.


The farm is surrounded by a 1.5-meter-deep ditch and wire mesh, and is guarded by five watchdogs, including three Bergers, To said.


The thieves must have been pros and received help from some local people, otherwise they couldn't have known the details of his farm so well, To said.


There must have been four or five of them at least to remove that many crocodiles from the farm, he added.


A neighbor said a 1.5-ton truck had been parked near To's house since around 11 p.m. and hadn't left until 1.30 a.m. together with four men on two motorbikes.


To said a man in his forties had come to the farm three or four days before and offered to buy 500 crocodiles shorter than one meter, but To had refused, saying that he didn't sell young crocodiles. Still, he had shown the man around the cages.


The stranger was this year's first and only visitor offering to buy To's crocodiles.


To estimates his loss at close to VND300 million (US$15,797) as the crocodiles would fetch around VND900,000 each.


According to To, it was the second theft of his crocodiles; 70 were taken six years ago.


Nguyen Van Bum, police chief of Phuoc Hiep Commune, described the incident as "strange" but refused to divulge details of the investigation.

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